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$1 million gift establishes the Dean Howard Gillman Fund

by Emily Cavalcanti
Outgoing USC Dornsife dean
Photo: USC Dornsife dean Howard Gillman (Photo/Philip Channing)

Two anonymous donors have made a $1 million gift to the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences to establish the Dean Howard Gillman Fund.

The endowment honors the legacy of Gillman, the 20th dean of the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the first dean of USC Dornsife, and his unprecedented commitment to providing extracurricular research opportunities for USC Dornsife undergraduates.

“Dean Gillman has made a priority of expanding and enhancing opportunities for talented undergraduates to conduct research with our USC Dornsife College faculty,” said Elizabeth Garrett, USC provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

“The benefits of such experience goes beyond instruction and learning; these students contribute to the production of scholarship of consequence and increase the store of knowledge that society draws upon in solving problems. Given his leadership and dedication to student success, it is entirely fitting that the Dean Howard Gillman Fund continues to foster these valuable collaborations.”

Gillman noted that he and his leadership team made it one of their highest priorities to enhance the USC undergraduate experience and to ensure the success of first-generation students.

“I am humbled and deeply grateful for this extraordinary gift,” said Gillman, holder of the Anna H. Bing Dean’s Chair and professor of political science, history and law. “It is wonderful that, because of this endowment, generations of USC Dornsife undergraduates will have meaningful opportunities to delve deeply into our world of inquiry and discovery under the mentorship of our stellar faculty.”

The gift provides financial support to outstanding USC Dornsife undergraduates who seek to engage in academic research under the mentorship of a USC Dornsife faculty member.

Reflecting Gillman’s belief in the importance of expanding knowledge across the various disciplines within the liberal arts, the Dean Howard Gillman Fund will support student research in every field of study represented within USC Dornsife, with a special focus on projects that engage fundamental questions of human value, promote human well-being or address significant social challenges.

Upon completion of their research projects, students will provide reports to the USC Dornsife Office of the Dean explaining the value of the research and its importance to their personal development. Throughout the years, the reports will serve as an ongoing testament to the transformative power of inquiry and discovery within the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.

The fund offers financial support to undergraduates pursuing majors within USC Dornsife on the basis of merit. In recognition of Gillman’s commitment to ensuring the success of first-generation college students within USC Dornsife, as well as his own experience as a first-generation college student, preference will be given to men and women who are first-generation college students.

The tribute gift comes on the heels of a proclamation from USC president C. L. Max Nikias and the USC Board of Trustees honoring Gillman’s service as he prepares to step down as dean on June 30 after serving a five-year term.

Since 2007, Gillman has overseen the largest, oldest and most diverse academic unit on the University Park campus, which is comprised of more than 30 academic departments, dozens of research centers and institutes and approximately 10,000 students.

During his tenure as dean, Gillman expanded undergraduate opportunities to conduct groundbreaking research through programs such as Student Opportunities for Academic Research and the Summer Undergraduate Research Fund. He has promoted study overseas with Problems Without Passports courses that combine problem-based or inquiry-learning research exercises with study in a foreign country or the United States.

Gillman also supported service learning through programs like the Joint Educational Project, housed at USC Dornsife, which is among the oldest and largest service-learning programs in the United States.

Gillman joined the USC faculty in 1990. Prior to serving as dean, he held appointments as associate vice provost for research advancement and chair of the Department of Political Science. Among USC’s most decorated teachers, he was recognized as a faculty member of the month by the Mortar Board Senior Honor Society and is a Distinguished Faculty Fellow at the Center for Excellence in Teaching. In 2001, Gillman received USC Dornsife’s General Education Teaching Award, as well as the USC Associates Award for Excellence in Teaching, the university’s highest award for career achievement in teaching.

For more information about the fund, contact Jennifer Dunn in the USC Dornsife Office of Advancement at (213) 740-4913.

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